Debating Oldies but Goodies

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 10, 2007, 5:00 pm
Press PassEach week, Golf Channel experts and analysts will offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf. This week, the Press Pass takes you to Honolulu, Hawaii for the PGA TOUR's Sony Open in Hawaii.

Hot Topic
Vijay Singh has won more times (18) than anyone else in TOUR history in their 40s. Whats the most impressive accomplishment by a player aged 40 or over?

Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer, GolfChannel.com:
This ones easy: Jack Nicklaus, age 46, shooting 30 on the final nine holes on Sunday to win the 1986 Masters. Probably the most unforgettable stretch of golf I have ever seen.

Kelly Tilghman Kelly Tilghman - Live Tournament Host, Golf Channel:
With the utmost respect for Jack Nicklaus' 1986 Masters victory, I have to give the nod to Ben Hogan's unforgettable and unmatched 1953 season when he won the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open. The only reason he didn't play the PGA was because the schedule conflicted with the British. All of this came just four years after his near fatal car accident which shattered both of his legs.

Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GolfChannel.com:
I think Vijay Singhs 2004 season was the most impressive. At the age of 42, Singh won nine times, made nearly $11 million, and usurped Tiger for No. 1 in the world. Such a season was not seen possible by anyone not named Tiger -- let alone by a man in his 40s with a shaky putter.

Rich Lerner Rich Lerner - Reporter, Golf Channel:
Hogan's rebound from near death, Vijay's nine win rampage and Snead's defiance of age (winning a TOUR event at the age of 52) are all very impressive, but Jack's Masters' spine tingler at 46 remains the single most electric moment I've ever seen.

Hot Topic
If you were in Michelle Wie's position, with her abilities, would you go to college?

Hewitt:
Yes, yes and yes. Stanford is, after all, Stanford. Plus, a lot of people forget that Michelle made close to $20 million last year if you count the off-course endorsement stuff as well as prize money. She is financially secure. Go get a great education and have a great time. There will be plenty of time for golf, 24/7, before all is said and done. Remember, she is just 17 years old.

Tilghman:
Attending college is a very personal decision. I would never be one to tell someone if they should or shouldn't do it. With that said, I can honestly say that if I had to go to college all over again, I would. I found it to be four of the most unforgettable and rewarding years of my life. I respect the fact that Michelle Wie is pursuing her degree while she pursues her dream of playing professional golf. I just hope that one doesn't take away from the other.

Baggs:
No, but only because I always viewed college as a vehicle to get me a better job and better pay than I would have gotten had I not gone. She already has these things. If I were her, Id join the LPGA full time, grab the reigns from Annika, and dominate the tour like nobodys business. But thats me. For however long she goes to college, I hope she enjoys it. And it is nice to see her doing what she wants to do with her life.

Lerner:
I would go to college primarily to gain a degree of independence, away from her parents.

Hot Topic
How many events, if any, will Wie win this year -- assuming she stays healthy?

Hewitt:
I think Michelle will win at least once on the LPGA. The Kraft Nabisco Championship in late March would not be a bad pick.

Tilghman:
I have to believe that Michelle Wie will win a women's event this year. She recorded a ridiculous amount of top-5s on the LPGA Tour in 2006 and three of them came in major championships. If she gets into somewhat of a flow in her 2007 playing schedule, it could easily happen.

Baggs:
Multiple times. If she wins a tournament early, say, the Kraft Nabisco, then she could collect two or three titles. Id be very surprised if she was shutout again on the LPGA. Then again, these were my same thoughts a year ago.

Lerner:
Michelle will win one tournament this year.

Hot Topic
The Sony Open is the first chance for Q-school and Nationwide Tour grads to compete in 07. Who among them will have the best season this year?

Hewitt:
I really like Paul Stankowski, if hes healthy, as a longshot pick for Comeback Player of the Year. Stanko has a lot of talent. Anthony Kim, also a Q-school grad, is the early favorite for Rookie of the Year. Off the Nationwide Tour, keep your eye on Aussie Andrew Buckle. And I think the time may have come for Cliff Kresge to stick on the big TOUR.

Tilghman:
A lot of signs point toward Anthony Kim. He's young, talented and already has a good deal of competitive experience against the best players in the world. Nike thinks so much of him that they gave him a contract with a head-to-toe deal. He could be the one to watch.

Baggs:
Nationwide Tour graduates usually fare better, on the whole, than their Q-school brethren. Ill go with Johnson Wagner, who won twice last year on the Nationwide Tour and made 25 of 28 cuts. I also like Kevin Stadler, who has won on the Nationwide and European tours, and has some experience on the PGA TOUR.

Lerner:
Michael Putnam strikes me as a strong, young talent who could shine quickly.

Related Links:

  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.